People enter the quad bike ROPS debate

Free Access

A week on from Australia’s The Weekly Times using its front page to open a debate about roll over protection structures (ROPS), the debate has continued in the letters and op-ed pages of The Weekly Times.

Dr Yossi Berger of the Australian Workers Union asks the valid question in his opinion piece – should all the responsibility for quad bike incidents be placed on riders or can manufacturers do better?  If injuries and deaths on quad bikes continue to occur after rider-focused control measures have been advocated and encouraged for many years, isn’t it time to look at more than PPE and administrative controls?  As Albert Einstein is alleged to have said:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Rhys Griffiths of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries says in his piece that the quad bike manufacturers are frustrated that low-cost, in safety-speak, administrative controls are not being applied by riders or endorsed by safety regulators.  The control measures recommended are likely to have positive safety impacts but these could be improved further by the integration of a ROPS.  However Griffiths says that :

“Roll Over Protection Systems are not the answer”.

I agree but safety is rarely about “the” answer.  Better outcomes are mostly achieved by a combination of controls that can accommodate the varying work characteristics. Continue reading “People enter the quad bike ROPS debate”

Evidence on the need for safe job design

Free Access

One reader has provided an example of recent research that supports the previous SafetyAtWorkBlog article on the importance of quality and safety in job creation.

In the March 2011 online edition of the Occupational & Environmental Medicine journal, Australian researchers have analysed data concerning “the psychosocial quality of work”.  According to an accompanying media release (not available online yet) they found that

“The impact on mental health of a badly paid, poorly supported, or short term job can be as harmful as no job at all…” Continue reading “Evidence on the need for safe job design”

Creating jobs is a waste unless those jobs are safe

Free Access

Coming out of recession or, at least, a global financial crisis seems to mean that the creation of jobs is the only driver of economic growth.  Governments around the world seem obsessed with employment creation but rarely is the quality of the employment ever considered.

The drive for jobs at the cost of other employment conditions such as safety was illustrated on 11 March 2011 in an article in The Australian newspaper.  New South Wales’ election is only a short while away and, as it is widely considered to be an easy win for the conservative Liberal Party, government policies are already being discussed.

“Industrial relations spokesman Greg Pearce, a former partner at Freehills, said he was aware that concerns about the workplace safety system had emerged in the legal profession.

But the Coalition’s main goal was to minimise uncertainty to encourage job creation.”

The push for jobs is also indicative of short-term political thinking. Continue reading “Creating jobs is a waste unless those jobs are safe”

New quad bike research and practical safety guidance

Free Access

A major Australian rural newspaper, The Weekly Times, has devoted its front page to an article on rollover protective devices on quad bikes.   It has taken as the base new information released by the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety (ACAHS) through a media release. The new policy paper and the supporting Practical Management Guide acknowledge new research from independent engineers that has finally questioned the established knowledge base on the safety of quad bikes.

ACAHS has come to a position where it states:

“Farmers and other owners of quad bikes should be encouraged to fit suitably tested protective devices to reduce death and serious injury from rollovers.” Continue reading “New quad bike research and practical safety guidance”

One person’s red tape is another’s due diligence

Free Access

Australian business is soon to be required to apply the concept of “due diligence” to occupational health and safety.  One would have expected the agency that is coordinating the changes to provide detailed guidance on what is expected from “due diligence”.  That is not the case and so, inevitably, lawyers have stepped in (some stepped in some time ago).

Part of the due diligence obligation is that it is necessary to “verify… compliance with the business’ safety obligations” and this is unavoidably achieved by audits and subsequent paperwork.  In fact, paperwork is a vital element of support for “evidence-based decision-making”.  So it is with some concern that one sees the New South Wales WorkCover Authority is number three on the NSW Business Chamber’s list of “top 5 red tape offenders”(?), released on 9 March 2011 . Continue reading “One person’s red tape is another’s due diligence”